Plugging into Multifamily - The Official Blog of AUM

Energy Outlook - February 2015

Posted by Alison Hoss on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

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Feb_2

Back to Normal Levels - Within 1% of 5-Year Average

EIA’s latest Storage Report measured storage levels at 2,428 BCF, a whopping 468 BCF above the same period in 2014.  Remarkably, this is climbing to within 1% of the 5-year average level of 2,457 BCF and 24% above last years’ levels.  Despite the severe snow storms the Midwest and Northeast experienced, moderate temperatures dampened gas withdrawals from working supply. Storage levels in all three regions (East, West and Producing regions) were above their year-ago levels by 254 BCF, 66 BCF, and 148 BCF, respectively.

Feb_3

Weather Forecast: Mild Temperatures for the Remainder of Winter

Temperature Outlook

The past few weeks brought record snowfall in the Northeast and Midwest and prices continued to fall. February looks to bring below average temperatures to the middle of the country and above average temps west of the Rockies.  The 3-month forecast continues to show above average temps west of the Rockies with the regions seeing below average temps shrinking to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and the Central Plains.  The East Coast forecast looks to see normal temperatures throughout the remainder of winter.

Feb_4

Energy Prices 

Natural Gas

This week Natural Gas prices fell to a new 32-month low, settling at $2.584/MMBtu.  With predictions of lower than expected gas withdrawals, natural gas prices continue to drop.  Storage levels have not experienced large withdrawals and edge closer to matching the 5-year average.  The temperature outlook for the remainder of winter looks to be at or above normal temps (except for Texas and the Central Plains).  All indicators point to prices staying low. 

Today’s early prices for March 2015 continued trading at the $2.59 level, while March Crude Oil is up at $52.23/barrel and heating oil is up 2.24% to $1.809/gallon.  The gas strip prices for 2016 through 2021 all closed at all-time lows yesterday.  Gas supply helped to drive prices down.  While domestic production remained relatively flat, imports from Canada were up 2.9% last week with increased imports to the Northeast and Midwest.

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Electricity

The U.S average retail price of electricity came in at 10.35 ¢/kWH in January down from the prior month of 10.80 ¢/kWH. As natural gas prices go, so goes electricity prices.  The largest change in electric rates came from significant hikes in utility default service rates; especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

Bottom Line

Winter is at the Half-Way Point and We're Way Ahead of Last Year

Continued mild temperatures (not snowfall) and increased working gas in storage drove natural gas prices down to 32-month historic lows. Average to above average temperatures predicted for most of the country for the remainder of winter bodes well for continued stable and low natural gas prices.  Similar to gas, electric prices have shown a drop in prices.

 

 

Why_AUM

Founded in 1994,  AUM provides the most complete utility management solution to multifamily. For a no-obligation NOI Analysis and Program Plan that demonstrates what AUM can do to help your bottom line, click the button here.

  No-Obligation NOI Analysis

 

 

Tags: Energy cost, Energy consumption, Energy Commodity Purchasing, Energy services, Energy Efficiency

December Energy Outlook

Posted by Alison Hoss on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 02:32 PM

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Injection Season is Over – Stockpiles Higher than Expected

As of today’s storage report, storage levels are at 3,359 Bcf, which is shows a withdrawal of 212 Bcf since our November Energy Outlook.  Withdrawal season has begun.  At current levels, we go into this winter 351 Bcf under the 5-year average.  Being 10% below historic levels places the market at risk if near term cold temperatures strip away the smaller storage stockpiles. Currently, December temperatures are predicted to be mild and small withdrawals may not stress storage levels or have a large impact on price. 

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Weather Forecast

Near Term Mild Temps - 2015 Brings Colder Temps to the South

Temperature Outlook

December tmperatures have been mild, bringing much rain to both coasts.  The first quarter of 2015 looks to deliver above average temperatures in the West and in far Northeast.  Below average temperatures are predicted for most of the South and Southeast; ranging from New Mexico to Virginia.  The Midwest, Central Plains, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic are predicted to have normal winter temperatures. 

Near-term temperatures will be critical to energy prices going into 2015.  Any cold snap may result in earlier and stronger natural gas withdrawals than expected; causing prices to increase.

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Energy Prices

Natural Gas

The January 2015 gas contracts gained this week, settling at $3.652/MMBtu.  Traders took advantage of oversold conditions, which resulted in Monday’s drop under $3.60/MMBtu, to cover short positions in anticipation of a colder January.  Much of the bounce back up is attributed to technical support at the $3.60 level.  Congrats to everyone who was positioned and ready to capitalize on Monday’s price dip.

So far, December has been much warmer than originally expected.  Normal to above-normal temperatures are expected to continue until at least Christmas, which is nothing like the below-normal temperatures originally forecast for December.  January and February are still forecast to be below-normal, yet not quite as cold as last winter.  The big question is … “when the cold eventually materializes, will prices rally due to increased demand for natural gas or will storage be enough to stabilize prices?”

 

Remember Natural Gas Spot Prices from Last Year (Henry Hub)?

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Electricity

The latest energy challenge has occurred on the electric side.  Most Northeast states will see huge increases in default electric rates.  Some have already gone into place and most will start on January 1st.  Below is a table of the Northeast states and their approved default service rate increase.  If you are on default service your price will go up.  Give AUM a call to help you avoid these price jumps.  You can easily avoid these price increases through our energy procurement services.

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Bottom Line

Mild December Weather has Offset Low Storage Levels

The mild December weather has dampened the typical seasonal price jump.  We have experienced periods of price dips, enabling prepared buyers to take advantage.  Some concern exists with storage levels 10% below the 5-year historic average.

Time is running out to lock in fixed natural gas prices for this winter.  Waiting until after Christmas will force you to be exposed to market prices in January and possibly February; the most volatile gas price months.  Take Action NOW, or roll the dice on winter gas prices.

Default Electric prices will be going up significantly in the Northeast.  Almost all NE states have approved rate increases in place or set to become effective on January 1st.  Start locking in your energy now to avoid those ugly default rates.

Tags: Energy procurement, Energy market, Energy Efficiency

AUM - Technology Choice Award Winner for 2014

Posted by Alison Hoss on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 01:29 PM

Multi-Housing News Taps American Utility Management as Technology Choice Award Winner for 2014

National multifamily publication award chosen by over 25,000 industry executives representing over 5,000 organizations.
 

Lombard, IL –(September 28, 2014) – Multi-Housing News (MHN), an industry-leading national publication for Multifamily, has awarded American Utility Management, Inc. (AUM) a 2014 MHN Technology Award for utility management.  The MHN Technology Awards, voted on by industry users, recognizes companies who provide flexible customization, competitive pricing, and the most innovative solutions, all backed by superior customer support.

“AUM is honored to receive this award from Multi-Housing News,” says Joe Stackhouse, AUM President and Chief Operating Officer.  “Since 1994, our sole focus has been to help Multifamily property owners maximize NOI through expert energy and utility management.  For them, transforming energy expense data into actionable information is the difference between profit and loss.  Our Performance Dashboards and Ad Hoc Reporting Tools on the AUM Advanced Analytics platform reduce millions of data points into simple visuals, allowing our clients to make critical decisions quickly for competitive advantage. We affect properties’ NOI every day in a very real way.”

 

Tags: Energy management, Multifamily, Utilities, Energy Efficiency, performance Dashboards

Utilities are Installing Smart Meters; But Who Owns the Data?

Posted by Alison Hoss on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 11:16 AM

 

Over the past few months, we’ve all been inundated with reports on the new Apple iPhone 6 release and all of the new features it has to offer.  It got me to think about all the data that travels through the air, across phone lines and over the internet; and about all the new devices that are being used to gather and send all the data.   The Internet of Everything (IoE) phenomenon, which is the next big wave of how people and things connect to the internet, is growing exponentially.  IoE applications (often Machine-2-Machine applications) include: smart meters, video surveillance, smart cars, package tracking chips, chipped pets and livestock, and digital health monitors.  Today, there are over 2.9 Billion M2M connections and they are projected to grow to 7.3B by 2018. 

But what about the business aspect of all these new devices and resulting data: 

1)    Who Owns the Data? 

2)    Who has Rights to transform the data into valued information?

In the utility world, these are hot topics.  Recently in Chicago, ComEd installed 425,000 smart meters as part of its $2.6B grid-modernization project; that number of smart meters is planned to grow to over 4 million meters.  The list of companies wanting access to the data is almost as long as the number of meters themselves, but no data is flowing.  No one is able to see the benefits of energy efficiency as a result of the new energy information gathered via the smart meters.  Why?  Because regulators are still determining who owns the data (the utility or the customer) and how data is to be released in order to comply with privacy laws.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has established  the “Green Button” as the standard for smart meter data access by customers.  Green Button is a good start.  However, the local utility is the only one who presents the energy data to the customer and only in the format or manner that the utility chooses.  In order to enable the markets to develop products and services around smart meter data, rules must be established to enable easier access to the data for enterprising business as well as property managers like you.

At AUM, we are fortunate to gather all of the utility data from your invoices as a part of our invoice processing service.  On the AUM Advanced Analytics Platform, clients get instant access to their information via a myriad of on-line reports, a first-glance Performance Dashboard with data drill-down capabilities, and other self-serve Ad Hoc Reporting Tools.  

But the next generation of data coming from smart meters has yet to be made easily available to customers and energy solution providers.  AUM’s question to you is:  How should AUM advocate on your behalf to ensure the data is most accessible to you?  What is the best solution to gather your residents’ utility data?  Do you want to access your residents’ usage data in order to help them become more efficient (and enable your properties to become more energy efficient)?

 

Tags: Energy procurement, Multifamily, Utilities, Submetering, utility expense recovery, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, energy expenses, analytics

Multifamily Market Alert - EPA Announces 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score for Multifamily

Posted by Alison Hoss on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 @ 03:01 PM

 

Multifamily Market Alert

EPA Announces 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score for Multifamily

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  announced the availability of its 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for Multifamily. For two years, EPA has been analyzing energy data received from the Fannie Mae Multifamily Survey and Data Taxonomy Project. Available through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, the score enables owners and managers to compare energy performance of their properties against similar properties nationwide.  It provides valuable information to help prioritize energy efficiency efforts and track improvements. 

AUM Chief Energy Officer Dimitris Kapsis was actively involved in the development of the benchmarks, and the score is an important development in the future of Multifamily energy management.  

As an ENERGY STAR Partner, AUM works on your behalf to ensure that both property characteristics data and energy usage data needed to deliver a score are correctly input into Portfolio Manager.  We will continue collaborating with EPA to make sure the new tool is an effective measure of your energy usage.

 

 

Why AUM?
Founded in 1994, AUM is celebrating its 20th anniversary of increasing Multifamily property NOI & RE value through use of its integrated Resident Billing & Energy/Utility Management tools. 

For a no-obligation NOI Analysis & Program Plan that demonstrates what AUM can do to help your bottom line, click below.

No-Obligation NOI Analysis

To learn more about our services click below

AUM Services Overview

 

Tags: Energy consumption, Multifamily, Energy Efficiency, ENERGY STAR, Benchmarking, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, Portfolio Manager, Fannie Mae

Turning Multifamily Energy Expense Data Into Actionable Information

Posted by James Kenneally on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 03:15 PM

“You lose with potential.  You win with PERFORMANCE.” 

- - -  Bill Parcels, Hall of Fame Football Coach

Yes, it’s almost football season, but this truism applies not only to sports, but also to business.  Our season is every day of the year. We all strive for peak performance; yet without a great way to measure our progress, our efforts are meaningless. The all-telling statistic that measures success in business is the income statement, and the difference between wins and losses is Net Operating Income, or NOI. 

In Multifamily, a key component of improving NOI for property owners is the ability to manage energy expense and usage.  The ability to transform energy expense data into information means the difference between profit and loss. 

AUM Performance Dashboards reduce millions of data points into simple, visual information that allows Multifamily property owners to make critical energy expense decisions quickly.  The Dashboards enable owners to view their performance at a single glance for their entire portfolio or an individual property.  With just one click on a performance gauge, owners see actionable opportunities for improved performance. 

Some key features of this new tool:

  • Critical Key Performance Indicators (KPI) on a single screen.

  • Easy to read gauges for quick visual analysis

  • Interactive gauges for simple drill down to more detail in chart or table format.

  • Each new view opens in a separate tab for fast & easy switches, comparisons, analyses, & root causes.

  • Ability to be used anywhere you have an internet connection – including your mobile devices.

So, whether you’re managing energy usage, utility expenses, vacant cost recovery, resident billing, invoicing or late fees, AUM’s Performance Dashboards on our Advanced Analytics platform provides all the energy and utility knowledge you need to support your decisions and help you maximize your NOI, and be a winner. . .even by Bill Parcell’s standards.

Tags: Energy management, Multifamily, Property owners, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, energy expenses, analytics, Business Intelligence, Big Data, Dashboards, management, Bill Parcells

Boston Delays Benchmarking and Disclosure Reporting

Posted by James Kenneally on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 12:21 PM

describe the imageToday, the Boston City Council voted  to approve the bill filed by Councilor Frank Baker to delay the implementation of the energy reporting and disclosure mandate in Boston for one year. The lone vote against the measure was Councilor Matt O’Malley (D-Jamaica Plain).

Click here to read the delay amendment.

In 2013 the City of Boston approved a new mandate requiring owners with buildings over 35,000 gross square feet to report and publicly disclose energy and water use. The law was to be phased in over three years starting this year.

Nine cities and two states have adopted energy benchmarking and disclosure laws. While all of them require building owners to track their properties' energy use, the laws vary regarding the size and type of buildings they affect; whether the energy use data must be disclosed publicly, or just to potential tenants or buyers; and other factors. 

Major unresolved issues have led to delays in implementation in other cities.  Seattle has revised its originally planned program and has twice postponed the date by which reporting is to occur for residential buildings.   Washington DC has had several years of delays and only recently issued rules nearly five years after the law was enacted.  

AUM will continue to keep multifamily property owners affected by this mandate and otherbenchmarking and disclosureinitiatives as they occur.

Tags: Energy consumption, Conservation, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Energy Efficiency, Benchmarking, energy disclosure, Seattle, Boston, Energy Building Audits

Thinking About Conservation this Earth Day

Posted by James Kenneally on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 @ 04:33 PM

Earthday2014Today marks the 44th celebration of Earth Day. This global recognition of the importance of environmental consciousness started in San Francisco in 1969, when environmental activist John McConnell proposed a day where people would raise awareness for ways to preserve Earth's natural resources and protect its species, as well as celebrate the beauty of the planet.

Today, Earth Day is observed in 192 countries. Whether it's a massive public rally, a private event, or an individual contribution, there are many ways to participate. Efforts can range from organizing environmental fundraisers, to planting a tree, to taking care to use less water and paying extra attention to how many lights are left on.

Conserving energy is an important way to reduce strain on the environment and bring down expenses. Applying simple practices in your property's lighting, water, and HVAC systems can go a long way toward shrinking your carbon footprint and increasing your NOI.

 

Lighting

Embrace natural light. During the day, think of the sun as your primary light source, and rearrange space take advantage of its rays. Open the shades or blinds and let the light pour in instead of automatically flipping on the overhead switch. Try to arrange your desk so that it's lit by natural light, so you won't have to use a desk lamp or overhead lighting.

Replace your incandescent light bulbs. These old-fashioned light bulbs burn off most of their energy as heat, rather than producing light. Replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs, both of which are much more energy efficient.  

Minimize your use of outside lights. A lot of people don't think about how much energy is being used by porch lights or path lights that stay on all night long.

Water

A recent study showed that 99% of business managers surveyed ranked water conservation as a “top five” priority over the next decade. The first step in understanding where you can conserve water usage is to conduct a water audit to find optimal water use. Then, monitor your utility bills to gauge monthly consumption.

Here are some useful tips to help conserve water at your properties:

  • Be sure your irrigation system is watering only the areas intended, with no water running onto walks, streets or down the gutter.

  • Marry the weather with your landscape water use. Water use should decrease during rainy periods and increase during hot, dry periods.

  • Inspect your landscape irrigation system regularly for leaks or broken sprinkler heads and adjust pressures to specification.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Clean and repair heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system on a routine basis. A clean and working HVAC system will help largely reduce your energy bills.Clean or replace the office's HVAC air filters, and clean all the evaporators, condensers, coils, and heat exchanger surfaces at least once per month. In some cases, you may need to hire an HVAC contractor to safely and effectively perform these tasks for you.

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Conservation, Cost cutting, Water, Energy Efficiency, Carbon footprint, Earth Day

SAVE Act Introduced in the Senate – a Precursor to Energy Efficiency as a Variable in Mortgage Financing?

Posted by James Kenneally on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 @ 09:35 AM

describe the imageThe Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act [S. 1106] was reintroduced earlier this month by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). The bipartisan bill would factor energy efficiency into mortgage financing by providing lenders and homeowners with more flexible underwriting rules that would include a home’s expected energy cost savings when determining the value and affordability of the home.  The bill brings together a broad and diverse coalition of supporters, including the National Association of Realtors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Alliance to Save Energy

Though this legislation is initially limited to residential mortgages, it potentially opens the door for similar incentives in the Multifamily sector.  As your advocate for increased energy efficiency, improved NOI, and enhanced real estate value, AUM will continue discussions with various government and financial organizations to study this relationship.

Tags: Energy Efficiency, Mortgage Financing, Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act, Senate Bill 1106

MARKET ALERT - DC Sets April 1 Deadline for Energy Benchmarking

Posted by James Kenneally on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 02:22 PM


Washington DC ArialDistrict of Columbia publishes final regulations requiring all large private buildings benchmark their energy and water performance annually.


 

On January 18, 2013, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) published the final rulemaking for energy benchmarking of private buildings in the D.C. Register (60 DCR 367). This final rule-making puts into execution the District of Columbia Green Building Act (GBA) of 2006, as amended by the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, requires owners of large buildings in the District to benchmark the energy and water performance of their buildings using US Environmental Protection Agency's Portoflio Manager tool. These laws and pursuant regulations were passed to promote widespread understanding of energy and water use in the District, and to promote resource conservation.


Deadlines for reporting energy and water usage are as follows:

Building Deadline requirements

Do You Need to Comply?

The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) has established a help center to answer basic questions regarding your requirements for benchmarking and disclosure.  The Most Frequently Asked Questions can be viewed here. The Penalty for non-compliance of this legislation is $100 a day.

As a Multifamily property owner, the whole building square footage is to be taken into consideration when determining whether or not you need to comply, but you only need to report common area utility usage data.

In addition, DDOE has developed several guidance documents, with technical details on what needs to be reported and how, including forms for requesting utility data, and instructions for the adjustments being made to the program for its initial year. The set of guidance documents also include several optional forms for requesting tenant that building owners and managers may find useful.

As your energy management partner, AUM offers expert execution on ensuring your data is properly loaded into EPA's Portfolio Manager and you have successfully reported your information to the DDOE. 

AUM is an EPA Energy Star partner, and is uniquely positioned to ensure your compliance with these guidelines.  Contact us below to find out how we can walk you through the maze of the Washington, DC Guidelines.

Information on Washington, DC Benchmarking and Disclosure Compliance

Tags: Energy consumption, Multifamily, Utilities, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Energy Efficiency, Legislation, EPA Portfolio Manager, ENERGY STAR, Benchmarking, D.C. Green Building Act, Property characteristic survey